I have three of the best sisters on the planet. I was lucky enough to have two of them down to visit a couple weeks ago. We are all different, but we all share an interest in food and cooking. When a holiday or party is coming up we often menu plan together. Lindsey and Sarah found this recipe for an orzo salad while they were visiting and it was the perfect side dish for the steak Ben grilled for dinner. I made it again the following weekend when my parents were in town and it was a hit yet again! This salad is simple and delicious and a great choice for a summer side dish.
This salad comes together quickly, can be prepared ahead, and can be served room temperature or cold, making it a really convenient dish. You can adjust the ingredients to your liking. I used a lot of tomatoes and herbs, with a small amount of dressing and feta. You can serve more dressing and feta on the side for guests who want more of it. You could leave out the chickpeas if you don’t care for them, but I probably wouldn’t add anymore than the can called for. The chickpea to orzo ratio seemed just about perfect.
The basil and mint combination make this salad bright and refreshing, the feta is a great flavor addition, the chickpeas are a nice texture surprise and the tomatoes provide lovely flavor and color.
The first time my sister made the dressing I was almost out of red wine vinegar so she subbed in some balsamic to make up the difference. The next time I made it I used all red wine vinegar and it definitely changes the dish. I think I preferred it with a little balsamic, but both ways are quite good.
I hope this makes its way to your table this summer! You will not be disappointed.
Orzo Salad with Chickpeas, Tomatoes, Herbs and Feta
From Giada DeLaurentiis
1 1/2 cups orzo
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 to 2 cups cherry, grape or other small tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on their size
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
4-6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste
Red Wine Vinaigrette
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (can sub in half for balsamic)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
Whisk vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper together in a bowl. While whisking, drizzle in the oil. Set aside. Note: You won’t use all the dressing. Save what’s left in the fridge to use on a green salad.
Cook orzo in boiling water according to package instructions, until al dente. Drain, then transfer to a serving bowl, toss and let cool.
Toss orzo with the beans, tomatoes, onions and herbs.
Drizzle with some of the dressing, taste and add more until you’re pleased with the flavor.
Toss in the feta if serving right away, otherwise cover and chill until ready to serve. Toss in the feta right before serving.
One day I am going to be a great meal planner. At this current time however I am not so great at it. Every now and then I plan a week of meals and I only have to take one trip to the grocery store. But then there are weeks like last one where I find myself on the couch at 5pm on Friday evening not sure of what we are going to eat for dinner. I loaded the kids up in the car after browsing through my Test Kitchen cookbook and got what I needed for this quick one skillet dinner. It was ready by 7pm, it was a huge hit and a recipe that I will definitely be making again.
In this skillet lasagna you have all the goodness of lasagna without all the work of layering and dirtying several dishes. The recipe calls for broken lasagna noodles, but you could use penne or ziti if that’s what you have around. I used Italian turkey sausage, but a mixture of ground beef and pork is what is called for in the original recipe. I added a few ounces of goat cheese to the ricotta because I don’t think that there is a thing on this earth that couldn’t use some goat cheese goodness. I layered some mozzarella slices on top of the finished dish and broiled it for a few minutes. I think when you serve lasagna there should be strings of cheese stretching from pan to plate, so this ensures that will happen. Top it all off with some fresh chopped basil and you have a super delicious and satisfying dinner that is ready in less than an hour. I realize it’s no 30-minute meal, but it sure does take less time than a proper lasagna!
Serve this with lots of good bread and a green salad for a complete meal, and one that will make everyone very happy.
8 ounces of lasagna noodles, broken into 2 inch pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan + more for serving
8 ounces part-skim ricotta
3 ounces goat choose
8-10 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
Pour the tomatoes into a quart measuring cup and fill with water to make 4 cups. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt.
Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add in the turkey and cook, breaking the meat up into pieces, until meat is cooked through and no longer pink.
Pour in the tomatoes and tomato sauce and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Add in the noodles and stir to combine. Press the noodles down into the sauce so that they are covered and then cover the skillet. Bring the sauce to a simmer and then reduce heat to medium low and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In a small bowl stir the ricotta with the goat cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Set aside.
Preheat your broiler.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Parmesan. Use a large spoon to dot the top of the skillet with the ricotta mixture, then lay the mozzarella slices on top.
Place the skillet under the broiler until the cheese begins to brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the basil.
If I were a good blogger who thought more than a day in advance I would’ve posted this weeks ago so you’d have time to plan and make these when you carved your pumpkin. I’m not a good blogger, I’m a foggy headed mommy. So here’s a post about pumpkin seeds that no one is going to use…
You’ve likely already thrown your seeds or roasted them if you’ve already carved your pumpkin. But if you’re carving your pumpkin today or tomorrow, then you’re in luck and you’ll have pumpkin seeds to roast! Or you could go buy another pumpkin, scoop out the goo, carve another jack o lantern and roast some seeds. And if you live in Houston you might need to replace the pumpkin that’s rotting on your porch anyway thanks to 80 degree temps and high humidity in OCTOBER. Why do I live here?
These pumpkin seeds are very simple and straightforward. Wash and dry your seeds (preferably overnight), toss in melted butter and spices, and roast in the oven. Nothing fancy. I’ve seen so many variations, from buttermilk ranch to salted caramel. People are so creative! I thought about trying something out of the ordinary, but ultimately decided to stick with something simple and something nostalgic. I remember roasting seeds as a kid, and this is what we’d do, although maybe with just salt a pepper or seasoning salt. I made my own little mix of spices for these seeds. You could easily adapt this with the spices you like. Happy carving, happy snacking and Happy Halloween!
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, washed and dried
2 tablespoons melted butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Preheat oven to 375°F
In a bowl toss pumpkin seeds with butter and spices to evenly coat.
Pour the seeds out onto a rimmed baking sheet (lined wish parchment for easier clean up).
Roast for 15-20 minutes, shaking the pan every 5 minutes to make sure the seeds are evenly roasted. The seeds are done when they just begin to brown, but I like mine a little darker so I often go a minute or 2 more.
Cool and store in a sealed container up to a week.
How can something so simple be so good? You probably have every almost every ingredient for this in your kitchen right this very moment. Add to that the minimal amount of time it takes to get this on the table, pair with a green salad and some crusty bread and you have the perfect meal. Make it for a casual family weeknight or for weekend company. It’s easy to make 2 servings or 10. This is one of those recipes to go to when your mind isn’t working well enough to think too hard about dinner (this happens to me a lot) or when you’re having last minute guests and don’t have much time to shop for or prepare dinner. The drizzle of glaze isn’t just great for flavor but it’s also beautiful and adds a touch of fancy to an otherwise very simple dish. I’m real excited that this chicken found its way into my life.
Since there are only a few ingredients, make sure they’re all fresh and of good quality. Get the best looking tomatoes you can find. Romas are a good choice and usually a good size. They are what I used. If the heirlooms at the store look good, splurge on them. You only need 1 or 2 (to serve 2-4 people) so go for it! Get fresh mozzarella, the kind packed in water, and make sure to slice it generously. Now the basil. If you have some in your garden then just grab your shears and head out the back door. If not, get the fresh kind at the store. Don’t use dried basil. It will just not be the same.
This really could not be simpler. Grill the chicken (or cook it in a pan on the stove), and in the last couple minutes place the cheese on top so it has time to melt. If you do this in the oven you might turn the broiler on for a minute or so to melt the cheese. Top with a slice of tomato, sprinkle with the chopped basil and drizzle with balsamic glaze.
The glaze is probably the most time consuming and complicated part about this. It’s not hard, it just requires time and some patience. But it’s worth it. The recipe below makes more than you will probably need, but you can save it, keep it in the fridge, and use it for other dishes. Drizzle on top of a caprese salad (just what you’re using in this dish minus the chicken) or as a finishing sauce for grilled pork tenderloin or other meats.
Below are the ingredients that will serve at least 4 using 4 chicken breasts sliced in half horizontally to make 8 total pieces, 2 per person. But some of your lighter eaters may just eat one piece. If you end up with leftovers I HIGHLY recommend reheating and serving some of the chicken on warm crusty bread with some arugula or other green to make a chicken caprese sandwich. Enjoy!
Grilled Caprese Chicken with Balsamic Glaze
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced horizontally into 2 pieces
1-2 medium to large tomatoes, or 3 to 4 small (you want to try to almost cover the chicken with the tomato slices
8 slices of fresh mozzarella (again, you want the mozzarella slice to almost cover the chicken breast)
kosher salt and pepper
fresh basil leaves, 8-10 (leave them whole or chiffonade)
1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Pour balsamic vinegar into a small, heavy saucepan. Bring the vinegar to a low boil over medium high heat. Adjust heat as needed to keep it at a low boil. Stir occasionally until vinegar begins to thicken and coat the back of a spoon, 15-20 minutes.
Stir in brown sugar and mustard and cook an additional 5 minutes, remove from the heat and let cool slightly before serving. This will thicken a bit as it cools.
Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
Grill the chicken, 4 minutes on the first side, then flip the breasts over and let cook for another minute or 2. Place one piece of mozzarella on each chicken breast and let cook for another 3-4 minutes until chicken is done and mozzarella is melted.
Transfer chicken breasts to a serving platter and immediately place basil leaves on top of the cheese followed by the tomatoes. Drizzle lightly with balsamic glaze and serve additional glaze on the side.
The last month has been a crazy one, and the next two aren’t going to be any different. We are moving from our sweet little rent house into a lovely suburban home with 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a nice big kitchen with garbage disposal, and enough counter space not to have to balance pans on top of the coffee maker. Yes. I have done this. Life will be so good. And about 5 weeks after we move in we will have a new baby on our hands, and so life will be a totally different kind of crazy. Can that be an acceptable excuse for why I haven’t blogged in a month?
I have been cooking, but haven’t been taking pictures of any of it or recording it anywhere. This is a big time bummer. One of my favorite things about having this blog is being able to search for a recipe I’ve made in the past and be reminded of what I did to change it that made it better, or the things I didn’t like that I’d change the next time around. When I don’t update the blog, I don’t have those recipes…unless I managed to write notes on them and put them somewhere safe…which is a rare event. So today I am playing catch-up.
One of the things I’ve had the luxury of participating in this summer is the Farmhouse Delivery here in Houston. When the bushel of local fruits and veg arrive on my doorstep carried by a shaggy headed hipster jamming out to whatever cool music is playing through his earbuds, I get positively giddy. Some of the items we receive are no-brainers. Peaches and blackberries are perfect in my morning yogurt and granola. Cucumbers, sweet peppers and the sweetest cherry tomatoes known to man get sliced and tossed into salads. Potatoes, onions, corn and slicing tomatoes have also been part of our meals. But then we get stuff like patty pan squash and eggplant. What am I going to do with this? I haven’t figured out the patty pan yet, but did find a use for the eggplant. So Farmhouse Delivery, thank you for helping me to explore more in my kitchen. And thanks, Sarah, for the recipe! I feel more of an obligation to use the produce fully since, well, we paid for it, AND it’s fresh and local and delicious. If I forget about a grocery store peach in the back corner of the fridge drawer I toss it out. If I were to forget a farmhouse peach I would probably cry a few tears and have a little memorial service for the sweet and forgotten little guy. On to the recipes…
Spinach, Basil & Walnut Pesto
A big bag of fresh basil came one weekend, and so I made 2 batches of this pesto. We ate it on pizza with mozzarella and farmhouse tomatoes. Another night I mixed it in with penne pasta and chopped cherry tomatoes topped with grated Parmesan. The leftovers from that meal got mixed with lots of mozzarella cheese, more pesto, more tomatoes and then baked in a casserole topped with Parmesan bread crumbs. So many easy and delicious dinners out of one batch of pesto.
4 cups baby spinach
2 cups basil
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Rinse and pat dry spinach and basil.
Put greens in the bowl of a food processor, pour walnuts over, sprinkle with salt and begin to pulse. While pulsing, add olive oil in a stream until desired consistency is reached. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Transfer to a lidded container and store covered in the fridge or freeze for later use.
Quinoa Mac and Cheese Casserole
I’ve made this twice now. It is sure to become a regular on our dinner menu. The great thing is that you can change the vegetables, spices and cheese to make it fit your tastes or what you have available. I used an onion from Farmhouse in this recipe, but other than that it’s a grocery store produce meal. Don’t worry, I’m not getting all snooty about my produce…at least not forever.
Heat a drizzle of oil over medium heat in a large, deep saucepan. Add the onion, bell peppers, scallions and saute for about four minutes, just until bell pepper has started to soften. Add the mushrooms and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted. Add the garlic and continue sauteing for another 30 seconds.
Add quinoa to the pot, followed by the chicken broth, salt, dry mustard and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed, stirring just a couple times.
Add 1 1/2 cups of the grated cheese and milk. Stir to combine then pour into a greased 9 x 13″ casserole dish.
In a small bowl, combine the Panko and the remaining cheese. Sprinkle on top of casserole and bake for about 30 minutes until golden.
Mediterranean Eggplant and Quinoa Salad
Eggplant, onion, zucchini and tomatoes from Farmhouse and then a great punch from the lemon dressing and an herby freshness from the parsley and mint make this my kind of summer meal. My sweet sister helped me find a recipe to use up my eggplant without feeling like I was eating eggplant. I used her suggestions of using quinoa instead of barley, and adding in a can of chickpeas and crumbled feta. This has made a terrific lunch the past couple days.
2 small to medium eggplants, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2-3 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 onion, halved then sliced
10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chopped scallion (from 1 bunch)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cups reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 lb cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and halved
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
4-6 ounces crumbled feta
Roast eggplant and zucchini: Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 425°F. Toss eggplant and zucchini and onion with 5 tablespoons oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then spread in 2 oiled large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pans. Roast vegetables in oven, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until vegetables are golden brown and tender, 20 to 25 minutes total. Combine vegetables in 1 pan and cool.
Cook Quinoa: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook scallion, cumin and coriander, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add quinoa and cook, stirring until well coated with oil, 2 minutes more. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until all of liquid is absorbed and barley is tender, 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer to reserved shallow baking pan and spread to quickly cool, uncovered, to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
Make dressing and assemble salad: Whisk together lemon juice, sugar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 2-3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Add quinoa, roasted vegetables, and remaining ingredients to bowl with dressing and toss until combined well.
The last meal I made from Martha Stewart Everyday Food was just ok, so I was a little apprehensive about this one. It sounded like it had to be delicious, though. Zucchini and fresh corn tossed with ricotta cheese, pasta and fresh basil. It was a nice, light dinner served warm, but an even tastier lunch the following day right from the fridge. This is a good summer pasta.
I changed some of the cooking methods. The recipe calls for grilled zucchini left over from another meal, which is a great way to use leftovers, so use extra veggies if you have them on hand. It also says to boil the corn with the pasta. I just chopped the zucchini and sauteed it with the corn. Basil and dill are the herbs in the recipe, but I just used basil. I meant to add some fresh parsley, but forgot about it until my plate was almost clean. I added some chopped grilled chicken Ben had made the night before. I might serve this along side grilled chicken next time instead of mixing it in, at least the first night we eat it. I think they would look good next to each other. And then the chicken would have pretty grill marks and not look as pale and sad as it does in this picture.
The corn is wonderfully sweet and crunchy. The basil is spicy and one of my personal favorite herbs for summertime. The ricotta is not heavy or overwhelming, it just adds a light creamy coating to everything. The only thing I found to be missing was salt. I salted the pasta, salted the veggies and salted the sauce, but still I wanted more. Now that I think about it, a nice squeeze of lemon juice might have done the trick. Acid is important…at least that’s what they say on Top Chef. So taste as you go along and definitely taste after mixing everything up to adjust as you see fit and let me know if you try lemon juice.
Here are some other changes. I used bowtie pasta (and a little penne to make 3/4 pound) but I think you could easily get by with 1/2 pound of pasta. Just throw in another zucchini or two and another ear of corn. You can use fat free ricotta, but low fat might give you more of a creamy and substantial feel. Grill the zucchini and the corn if you can. While I loved the way the corn tasted I couldn’t stop thinking about how much better it would be with slightly charred smoky corn. Grill it on the cob, then cut it off. If you grill the zucchini, use a grill basket or cut the zucchini into long thick strips to grill it, then cut it into proper sized pieces after it cools a bit.
Does anyone have any great tricks for cutting corn from the cob? I always make a ridiculous mess and throw bits of corn all over my kitchen. Please advise.
Basil Ricotta Pasta with Corn and Zucchini
From Everyday Food
1/2-3/4 pound short pasta, such as campanelle
1 cup reserved pasta water
salt and pepper
1 cup ricotta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
4-5 small zucchini, sliced and then quartered
1 3/4 cups corn kernels (from 2-3 ears)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn, plus more for serving
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken (optional)
In a large skillet heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Add zucchini and corn and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes or until zucchini is slightly softened but not squishy. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain.
In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup pasta water, ricotta, and Parmesan. Add pasta mixture, zucchini, and basil, and toss to combine. Add more pasta water if necessary to create a light sauce that coats pasta. Season with salt and pepper and top with more basil and Parmesan.
While in college at Texas A&M in College Station, I used to meet a friend at a pizza place near campus that served pizza by the slice called Antonio’s. I always got the margherita. Nice thick slices of fresh mozzarella, perfect slices of red tomato and fresh basil on top of a delicious crust. If I’m ordering pizza at a restaurant, margherita is always on the short list. And when we make pizza at home, it’s one I know will be devoured. There’s something wonderful about the fresh ingredients, the contrasting textures of smooth and creamy cheese, juicy tomato and the slight crunch of the spicy basil leaf. And the bright colors can’t be beat either.
I made these small bites as part of an Italian appetizer spread. Just take a small ball of mozzarella, snack size tomato and fresh basil leaf. Add the sweet tang of balsamic vinegar and you have the perfect bite. You want the mozzarella and tomato to be close to the same size. Bocconcini are too large, so look for ciliegine, which are cherry sized balls of mozzarella and are perfect in size. If you can’t find these, you could always cut the bocconcini into small chunks. When I was skewering these I thought that the basil was going to be overwhelming since I had to use such large leaves to hold everything, but it was just right.
Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Bites with Balsamic Glaze
12 snack size tomatoes, cherry, grape, etc.
12 small balls of mozzarella packed in water, patted dry with paper towels
12-15 large basil leaves, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
12 long toothpicks (2 1/2 inches)
Make balsamic glaze: simmer vinegar in small saucepan over low heat for 10-15 minutes until thickened and reduced. Swirl periodically, and be careful not to let it boil. You will have a burnt mess on your hands. I know this because I had to make two batches…
While heating vinegar, make skewers. Slide one end of the basil leaf on the toothpick, follow with mozzarella and tomato, keeping basil leaf underneath to create a boat. Then attach the other end of the leaf. Be careful not to tear the leaf. Keep a few extra leaves on hand just in case.
Lay bites on a platter, then drizzle each with glaze. A little goes a long way.
This tasty potato salad is one of the sides we had on the Fourth of July. While I do have a special place in my heart for a nice mustard potato salad, this one was lighter and fresher in flavor than the traditional yellow side dish.
When dressing this salad I didn’t use the measurements in the original recipe. I don’t like to overdo it on the oil, so I just drizzled a little olive oil, squeezed the juice of one large lemon, sprinkled some salt and pepper, tossed, then tasted. At this point you can add more of whatever it needs. I added a little more lemon, salt and pepper.
This is a nice, simple summer side. Fresh ingredients make such a huge difference, so it’s the perfect time of year to make this salad. I used a combination of red potatoes and baby Yukon golds that came fresh from a garden. The light and lemony dressing make this potato salad a healthier option than those with mayonnaise based dressings. If you like a creamier dressing, I think adding some yogurt would be a good option. Enjoy!
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced thinly (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup)
1 large bunch fresh basil, rinsed, dried, and leaves picked
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large lemons, juiced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
About 15 grinds freshly ground pepper
Place the potatoes in a large pot of salted water and bring to boil. Cook until just fork tender, about 15 minutes. Fish out the potatoes with a spider or slotted spoon and place them in a bowl of ice cold water to stop them from cooking.
Shuck the corn and break each ear in half. Cook in the same boiling water for 5 to 7 minutes until tender but not soft. Remove the cooled potatoes to a dish-cloth to drain. Immerse corn in the same ice bath until cool. Cut each potato into quarters and place in a large bowl.
Remove corn from water and also let drain. Use a chef’s knife to cut the kernels off each ear. Add kernels to bowl. Add grape tomatoes, onion, and whole basil leaves. Add olive oil and lemon juice and toss gently to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Summer means an abundance of fresh basil. Fresh basil means fresh pesto. So, summer must mean fresh pesto.
There are so many things you can do with pesto. Spread on baguette slices and garnish with a slice of tomato…make it even better with a piece of fresh mozzarella. Toss it with warm pasta. Mix with some mayo for basil mayonnaise. Use on pizza and panini. Thin it out with more olive oil and drizzle over roasted chicken or fish.
A lovely college friend of mine went to a Giada De Laurentiis cooking demo at Sur La Table when she was in LA 5 years ago. She bought me a signed copy of Everyday Italian. It is one of those cookbooks that I love, but don’t use nearly enough. This pesto recipe is from that cookbook and it is so simple and delicious.
You can make this in a blender, or in a food processor. If you’re planning to double the recipe, which isn’t a bad idea, so that you have some extra pesto for freezing, then use the food processor.
From Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2-2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Toast pine nuts in a 350°F oven for 6-8 minutes until slightly browned. Be careful not to burn them.
Place basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper in blender with a tablespoon or so of the olive oil and blend.
With the blender still going, slowly drizzle in the remaining oil until the consistency is to your liking. You may need to stop every now and then to push any stray basil leaves back down.
Transfer to a bowl and stir in parmesan, season to taste with more salt and pepper if desired.
When I bought the ingredients for this soup today it was intended to be “Italian Tortellini Soup”, a recipe I got from a woman who came to a Bible study group I am involved with. It became this Italian sausage & vegetable soup when I realized that I did not use a large enough pot and had to leave out half the mushrooms and the entire package of tortellini. Thankfully the soup came out OK and we’ll be enjoying it for the next few days! It might be a blessing in disguise that my pot was too small. This way we won’t be eating the same thing all week long.
Soup is quite forgiving. The world does not come crashing down when you realize you’ve left something out, don’t have quite enough of an ingredient, added your ingredients in the wrong order, or added more of something than directed. Thank goodness, since almost all of those things happened to me!
Ben was not happy when I told him the tortellini soup had no tortellini. Ben likes tortellini. But he ate it anyway and I think he thought it was pretty good. He had a bowl and a half, so it couldn’t have been that bad. I really liked how chock full of veggies this soup was. The amount of sausage made it just meaty enough and provided a nice flavor. I added a huge handful of torn basil leaves right before serving and that was lovely. I really enjoy fresh basil and am sad I will have to wait until next summer to grow some of my own. I have attempted this before…and failed. But every summer I try again. Maybe this next time I’ll get it right and it won’t wither and die on me.
Here is the recipe, which was adapted more than just a little bit since I was not quite on top of things when I went grocery shopping. I will try out the original recipe sometime and post that as well. Enjoy! (more…)